Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A World War I Letter

January 30, 1916
Dear Mother, Father, Jane, and George,

I know it’s been sometime since I’ve wrote a letter to you all, but it was a long time for the war is getting a lot worse. It’s night as I write this letter in the most of rare calming atmosphere of the Medic Tent, however, the linger of fear never leaves the heart of any soldier so it probably shouldn’t leave mine. Nor it does to any nurse who I work with. We work all days, long and hard, as we carry men from the Front with bloody faces on stretchers, disembodied limbs, and men who gotten sick from Trench Fever and other diseases from where they sleep in the trenches. We also have some rats that scurry around, but I know that the Matron, Frida, would be happy to take them down with her pocket knife, always shiny and smooth and had engravings that said in cursive: Use of Power is made for Many. I never dared to ask how she got such a weapon; nor did anybody else, but we were happy that she was able to keep such nasty creatures out of our hair. Oh that reminds me, one night, I think it was last week, Jane, a regular nurse with no stature like myself, found two mice scurrying in her puffy, brown hair. She screamed like a wild animal and cried with such sorrow of pain as she felt their claws, digging and scratching into her scalp. She woke many of the other nurses in the broad morning and they all stared in such horror, but Frida was the first to take action. She took them by the tails and the screeches of the rats woke me from my slumber at two in the morning. I saw in my sleep-foggy eyes, one brown and one black, hanging upside down in Frida’s hand right hand as her left held the knife, pointing at their throats. Before I realized what she was doing, I saw for the first time how she dealt with the rats. She cut their throats and like a balloon filled with air, they deflated and all the blood drained out. A speck of blood fell on my face and my pale-navy blue eyes were wide as I slowly said “Poor rats” deep in my mind.  To make matters worse for poor Jane, as Frida threw the rats out of the tent, Frida told the nurses that they were a male and a female trying to make a home on the top of her head. We all believed her for we all knew she was turning into a rat expert. Poor Jane was off duty that day as she was traumatized from the rats and whenever she saw one, she would flee to Frida’s side like a child running to the safety of her mother from a scary creature. For me, rats are the least of my worries. My worries are more directed to when I have to run to the field in No Man’s Land. My heart jolts and runs laps in my chest from hearing those bomb shells rain down like Hell is taking over the land. For me, however, I think it all ready took over some. I know it’s slowly taking over Jane and some men who I’ve met when they come in, but I’m still trying to hold strong.

A few days ago, as my sector was traveling north to a hill for safer ground, I came by a interesting tool. I saw that it was a bayonet; its row of teeth almost cutting into my skin for I didn’t see with my eyesight was clouded with the details; a mark or engraving of some sort. I took it to a soldier, a tall fellow with broad shoulders who had a long beard with dirt around the edges who I remembered helping when he got shot in his right leg. I asked him what the writing on it meant once we came to the spot on the hill and all the tents were made. He told me it was their allies, the French, as he also told me that the teeth proves it all that the French made them. I thanked him and wrapped it in a cloth as I put it under my bed for safe keeping. I now forever keep this bayonet inside my boot when I go out, hoping to use it for safety and at the same time; afraid to one day use it. But, even with this security, I unfortunately didn’t expect the sorrow of the army weapon. I showed this to one of the nurses I was the closest to, Mary, as she looked along with me in awe. She touched it carefully and was happily to hear what I learned from the British Soldier that day. But, one day though, she asked me if she could borrow it. I looked at her with a weird sensation that I will regret as she never asked me such things, but obliged non the less. Sadly though, I soon learned to discover that she killed herself behind the Medic Tent as we woke up the next day. The blood of her wrist and neck encircled her like a ring of stones in a child’s story to make fairies appear. But as I saw the bayonet in her pale hand, I knew it was demons who appeared instead.

We buried her in that spot as Frida made a prayer for her spirit to hopefully make it to heaven and for God to forgive her inconvenient death. I unfortunately deep down thought otherwise later on. I once decided to look through her letters to see why she made this decision. She always seemed happy around me so I had to see why she did such act. The answer then came to me as I saw a letter written that her husband and two children died from a fire that happened. The images of fire burning furniture, putrid smoke that can choke the air out of you and screams of pure terror ran through my mind as I realized the reason she killed herself. I looked at the date of the letter: January 18, 1916. It was in Mary’s handwriting, so I resumed it was the day she received it. I then tried to remember when I showed her the bayonet to her. I then dropped my jaw and eyes watered as I realized it was three days after she got the letter. “Oh dear Mary? Did you think it was a present from God that told you could join your dead family and I was the messenger for your death? Or did you think it was the Devil who possessed me to give you such a way to ease your sins of wanting to die?”  was what I asked her that night before I slept. I  however couldn’t sleep that night. I now have a weight of guilt that hangs over my head for I was practically the murderer for my best friend.

I now wish to be in the dugout where the soldiers hide so I won’t have to keep seeing the empty bed that Mary once laid in. I have a craving to hide away behind the parapet of mud and blood so I can be far away from the rats that scurry in the Medic Tent. I want to move to another sector even to just start over with new, different nurses. I know that this can never happen. I need to remember that Mary is in a better place now.

So long my dear family,
Madeline Jones


  1. This has gotten into many details of the war. I enjoyed it quite much. You seemingly took this historical fiction seriously.

    1. Yep I did very much ^^. It was a lot of fun writing it! I even showed it to my other classmates and they were all impressed (some jealous ;~;)Still I'm happy that you liked it :)